My friends Katie and Margie recently handed me a bag of apples from their parents’ vineyard and farm. And if someone gives you a bag of locally-farmed apples (or if you find some lying around) what do you do?
You make a pie! Or apple sauce. Or poached apples in cider. Or in my case, you crash a dinner at Heather’s house at 9.30 PM on a weeknight like you’re the evening’s surprise pastry chef and construct a tarte tatin, a buttery upside-down tart that lets the apples shine. (You can also make this dish with pears for another seasonal treat.)
For this tart, you’ll need a well-seasoned oven-proof skillet with sloping sides, preferably cast-iron, to make this as beautiful as possible. Also, don’t be afraid to keep the pastry a little thicker than you’d want a pie crust. Plus, the sour cream in the pastry adds a layer of richness and moistness to the crust, so don’t skip it!
This dessert was so good and presented so beautifully that I’ll be making it over Christmas for my parents. Serve with creme fraiche, vanilla bean ice cream, or English custard, and enjoy!
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (or self-raising gluten-free flour with a pinch each of xantham gum and guar gum)
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 3 tbsp. brown sugar
- 3/4 cup butter (or 1 and 1/2 sticks)
- 6 tbsp. sour cream
In a large food processor, pulse pastry with salt, sugar, and butter until a fine meal forms. Add sour cream and continue to pulse just until dough sticks together. Form into a disc, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate at least 2 hours, and up to 24 hours.
- 11 firm tart apples (Granny Smith or similar is best), peeled, cored, and cut into eighths
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup butter (or 1 stick)
- 2 tsp. vanilla
- 1 egg, beaten, for glaze
Pre-heat the oven to 425F and put the rack in the middle.
Butter a 12-inch skillet with sloping sides thoroughly. Then melt butter and sugar and vanilla together until bubbling, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat, and arrange apples in 2 layers in pan. Sprinkle additional sugar on top. Return to the stove at medium heat, and simmer, adding apples as there’s room and moving the pan to cook them evenly. Do not move the apples while you’re cooking them.
Simmer until a thick caramel-like syrup forms, thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Apples will continue to cook in the oven, so you don’t need to overcook them.
Roll out the pastry dough between 2 layers of parchment until it’s big enough to cover the apples. Place on top of apples, cut a few vents in the crust, quickly glaze with egg, and bake in the oven until the crust is golden-brown, about 15-20 min.
Loosen crust from pan with a knife. Then invert onto a plate and allow to cool for 30 min. for best presentation. Serve with creme fraiche or vanilla bean ice cream.